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Perry Ranks Among Top Longest-Serving U.S. Governors

Outgoing Texas Gov. Rick Perry has not only become the longest-serving governor in state history. He also ranks among the 10 longest-serving governors in American history.

Gov. Perry gives his farewell speech during a joint session of the Texas Legislature on January 15th, 2015

With the inauguration of Gov.-elect Greg Abbott this morning, Texas will get its first new governor since 2000.

Its last — outgoing Gov. Rick Perry — has not only become the longest-serving governor in state history, but also ranks among the 10 longest-serving governors in American history, said Eric Ostermeier, a research associate at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School’s Center for the Study of Politics and Governance, who writes the Smart Politics blog there.

“All told, Perry served 14 years and one month, or 5,144 days, good for tenth place on the all-time list of statehood governors since 1787,” Ostermeier writes.

It wasn’t until this past weekend that he placed among the top 10, ultimately beating former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, whose tenure was two days shorter than Perry’s.

Thompson and three others were about a month shy of Perry’s record, but Perry was far behind ninth-ranked former New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, who served nearly 11 months longer. The longest-serving governor in U.S. history, Iowa’s Terry Branstad, has outserved Perry by nearly six years and counting.

Branstad, who was re-elected to a sixth term in November, has spent more than 20 years in office. Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber and California Gov. Jerry Brown were re-elected in November and both rank among the top 20 longest-serving governors in history. Each has served more than 12 years, which is less than a year shy of securing 19th place.

Perry ranks even higher when considering consecutive service. Only three other governors have spent more consecutive time in office than Perry: Rhode Island Anti-Federalist Arthur Fenner (1790-1805); Maryland Democrat Albert Ritchie (1920-1935); and New York Republican Nelson Rockefeller (1959-1973).

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